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How Naira Marley missed erecting an empire from his EFCC saga

Posted by Itty Okim | 25 June 2019 | 2,549 times

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•Naira Marley

Perhaps, I was expecting too much, but I just felt that Naira Marley could have used all the hullabaloo and fuss created by his detainment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the month of May to build an empire for himself.

He would first have worked on his branding, and then his career for the better.

 If only the whole situation was well managed, Naira Marley could have become a living legend, an activist and even a Fela Anikulapo-Kuti on dreads and jean trousers.

The practice of internet fraud in almost every corner of the country in recent times is no longer news and hundreds of young men (and young women likewise) have given in to this ill as a means of survival in these economically perilous times.

Many feel this trend is birthed from the fact that young Nigerians now want to make quick and easy money and by so doing, also want to take revenge on the whites who they feel stole from the virgin land of Nigeria during the British Colonization era.

 And because this has unfortunately become a trend with massive engagement, related topics have gradually become good market for street musicians and songwriters as almost every song now has slangs like “sashe” and “logo Benz” which refer to the practice of internet fraud, locally referred to as “Yahoo-Yahoo”.

Naira Marley – who was beginning to seem like the face of this online dupery – was made a scapegoat.

The foremost hip-hop singer was arraigned by the EFCC on allegation of internet fraud, among other 10 counts of violating the Cyber Crimes Act of 2015.

And so, it happened that the entire chunk of young online scammers who make up a large part of the youth population were solidly behind this UK-born “Issagoal” crooner.

Massive online campaigns were being run for the release of Afeez Fashola’s (real name). A republic of his fans and street music lovers was formed with the nomenclature “Marlians”.

I insinuate that his popularity doubled during this period as he made the headlines of almost every media house; both electronic, online and print. Naira Marley sure yielded much power and popularity.

On May 30, he was granted release on a bail of 2 million naira. Marlians (a tag adopted by his teeming fans) went wild in celebration and comparisons were made between him and the legendary Afro beat king and activist, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

But Afeez and his management team missed it, they missed to capitalise on this open window. The big plus was that he was arraigned, not convicted of the alleged crime.

Methinks Naira Marley’s handlers need to do a research on how Fela’s (and other radical entertainers’) popularity always got to a climax each time he came out of detention.

In his words from his now very popular song, Am I A Yahoo Boy:

Won fe se mi bi Fela. Won fe se mi bi Mandela. Won fe se mi bi President Kennedy. Won fe se mi bi MKO Abiola.”

Imagine that he dropped a song against the generally believed and widely reported brutality vented on “bloody civilians” by overzealous military and paramilitary officials, especially the FSARS and the EFCC who have been widely accused of never finding faults in corrupt potbellied politicians and others.

Imagine that he continued on that path, infusing his street sound and relatable slangs with deep, political and intellectual content. Imagine...

The Marlian empire would have been established closely to, if not entire like, Fela’s Kalakuta Republic; placing Naira Marley’s name in an unerasable spot in history’s book of music revolutionaries.

These are just my thoughts about the whole issue. I would want to think that his management team has its thoughts too.

 But we can only hope they help keep and make Marley’s name relevant in the history of Nigerian music.


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Source: News Express

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